All sorts of jazz, free jazz and improv. Never for money, always for love.
Eyal MAOZ and Asaf SIRKIS are both musicians originating from Israel who have had a personal and later also a musical relationship ever since they attended elementary school in their hometown. In later years the musicians established themselves in the US and UK respectively. "Elementary Dialogues" is to my knowledge their first collaboration to be issued, recorded back in 2006 and released in 2009 by the French label Ayler Records.
Artists actively recording progressive music tend to be highly skilled musicians. And while it isn't the only genre about which this can be said, classical music and jazz are two others that come readily to mind, one of the cornerstones of the progressive environment is that the individual artist to a slightly greater extent will work within a relatively framework-free environment. Some artists choose to let go of any limitations at all, and more or less their direction as the musicians move along. This approach, also a common feature of jazz, is the territory explored on this disc, which may arguably be somewhat more of a free-form jazz production than a progressive rock-oriented one when it comes to that. Free-form improvisations are a type of music I rarely get intrigued by. Artists utilizing this approach are generally talented and in most cases highly accomplished, and the level of musicianship is impressive. And while it is easy to marvel at technical skills and experimental features, I do require a bit more to be able to appreciate any given musical creation. And while I'm a sucker for well-planned and -executed melodies, in particular ones set within sophisticated arrangements, I also easily become intrigued by distinct moods and atmospheres where the melodic aspect takes a back seat, if present at all. But sheer instrumental flamboyance tends to leave me rather cold. "Elementary Dialogues" is an album that features quite a few endeavors of the latter variety. Experimental pieces that do impress in terms of instrumental moves and experimental features, but where the moods are too chaotic, the melodies too fragmented and the overall scope to chaotic for me to be able to achieve any pleasure in listening to them. Thankfully Maoz and Sirkis have chosen to include some creations with slightly more structured constructions too. Sparse, the first of these, with a nervous guitar effect ever-present underneath as a foundation for improvised drum and guitar runs, this tension-inducing backbone creating an atmosphere easy to get intrigued by. Strip is another interesting excursion, on this occasion opening with a melodic jazz theme explored in increasingly experimental variations, first and foremost by way of guitar distortion and atonal note insertions. The dark resonances of final effort Shadows make it another number that works fairly well, sporting subtle percussion and guitar inserts on top of a dark resonating motif presumably originating from the guitar. And second-to-last track Esta sports an opening and end sequence that I found to be truly enthralling, with a light-toned plucked guitar motif as the backbone supported by careful but energetic percussion and with experimental plucked guitar soloing on top. The elongated free-form passages in between those were rather less than inspiring to my ears however, and as such this number is a somewhat flawed one in my perception. But the high points of this production come in the shape of the gentler explorations for me, Duo and Miniature respectively, both of them gentle laidback affairs exploring the subtle side of experimental music, with resonating tones and minor variations over a set theme the main elements extensively explore.
Those who have a passion for free-form-oriented music, and enjoy the relative sparsity of the musical landscape produced by a drummer and a guitarist alone, will find plenty of material to cater for their tastes on "Elementary Dialogues". Arguably more of a jazz production than a progressive rock-oriented one, this disc showcases the skills of two fine instrumentalists in terms of technical performance as well as creative thinking and an overall experimental approach. Minimalistic in style and in scope, this is a CD to be enjoyed by a select crowd, and I'd presume that their key audience will have started tracking down this album way before reaching these final words in my description of it.
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